In this activity, you will learn how to customize your own colors in the Specdrums Music app by coloring in a keyboard and building your own keyboard from scratch.

Learning Objectives

Visual Arts

VA:Cr1.2.3a – Apply knowledge of available resources, tools, and technologies to investigate personal ideas through the art-making process.

VA:Cr1.1.4a – Brainstorm multiple approaches to a creative art or design problem.

VA:Cr2.3.2a – Repurpose objects to make something new.


MU:Cr2.1.4b – Use standard and/or iconic notation and/or recording technology to document personal rhythmic, melodic, and simple harmonic musical ideas.

MU:Cr3.2.4a – Present the final version of personal created music to others, and explain connection to expressive intent.

MU:Pr4.2.3c – Describe how context (such as personal and social) can inform a performance.

MU:Pr4.2.3b – When analyzing selected music, read and perform rhythmic patterns and melodic phrases using iconic and standard notation.

MU:Cr1.1.2b – Generate musical patterns and ideas within the context of a given tonality (such as major and minor) and meter (such as duple and triple).


One of most fun things about playing with Specdrums Rings is being able to play on any objects and colors around you! You are literally able to color a picture and play on that picture. How exciting! In this free-form activity, you will learn how to build your very own keyboard using white or construction paper, coloring utensils, scissors, cardboard, glue, and anything else you wish to use. Additionally, you will learn how to customize your own colors to your own notes and sounds using the Specdrums Music app.

We taught a Specdrums Camp through CU (University of Colorado) Science Discovery here in Boulder. Our campers worked on their own projects where they made their own keyboards to play on using Specdrums Rings. Here is a recap of some projects these amazing campers worked on!


Required Materials

  1. Blank Keyboard– use this to write in the correct note name at the bottom of each key on the keyboard. The first one is written in for you.
  2. Notes and Keys – No Color – use this to check your answers
  3. Coloring and Writing utensils
  4. For Challenge: coloring and writing utensils, scissors, paper (white and construction), tape, cardboard


First – start simply. Begin with the Blank Keyboard. Write the correct note names at the bottom of each key. Refer to the Notes and Keys Answer Sheet if you need further guidance. Then, pick 13 colors and color each key with a different color. Your task is to color in the keys with ANY color you choose, and you don’t have to copy the colors you see on the Notes and Keys Answer Sheet. Whatever you choose for each note, make sure your color is solid! **Remember to use all different colors – no similar colors**

Next, you will program the colors you chose to the correct note you wrote at the bottom of each key using the bubbles in the Specdrums Music app. Pinch out to remove all bubbles in the app. Use your finger to hold down the white circle at the middle bottom and then simultaneously use your ring to tap on the color of the key you colored in. Move the bubble around in the app with your finger and choose your note. If you need further assistance, click on the link below to access a video tutorial about programming your own colors in the app.

Specdrums Basics Tutorial

After you program the colors, play through the notes on your keyboard. Try a simple song. Play a scale.

Congrats! You now know how to program your own colors! Let’s take this to the next level in our challenge section.


Your task: create a unique keyboard from scratch that helps you demonstrate how to play a scale (major, minor, pentatonic, or chromatic) with your Specdrums Rings. Use the concepts you learned about programming your own colors to sounds and notes.

You will need coloring and writing utensils, tape, glue, construction paper, or any other craft supplies you have at your disposal. You may choose to work individually or in groups.

Think about how you want to design your new keyboard. Is it a three-dimensional keyboard? Perhaps it’s a flat but colorful keyboard. Take some time to plan before creating.

What kind of scale will you choose to demonstrate? Why did you choose your particular colors? What does your design look like?

Show off your keyboard and demonstrate your scale to your peers.

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